Which Number Is More Important
Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.
Heart Attack And Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
S Of Lowering Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can be lowered through lifestyle changes and/or medications. Weight loss, regular exercise, a low-salt diet, and stress relief are all proven ways to lower blood pressure. If changes in lifestyle are not effective, there are medications that can safely lower blood pressure.
People with normal blood pressure should maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid developing high blood pressure in the future. Individuals with prehypertension should start with lifestyle changes to reach their blood pressure goal. People with stage 1 hypertension should make the appropriate lifestyle changes to reach their blood pressure goal within 6 months, but they may need a prescribed medication if lifestyle changes are not effective. Stage 2 hypertension is usually controlled by adopting a healthy lifestyle and using of one or more antihypertensive medications. Anyone with high blood pressure should take the prescribed medication exactly as directed.
If you have questions about blood pressure readings, blood pressure control, drugs that cause high blood pressure, or prescription antihypertensive drugs, your pharmacist can help.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure And When Is Blood Pressure Considered To Be High
Blood pressure is always measured on a number of different days and when you are at rest. If several of these measurements are too high, you are said to have high blood pressure, even if only one of the two either the systolic or the diastolic one is high. The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. In adults, blood pressure is considered to be normal under a systolic value of 140 mmHg and under a diastolic value of 90 mmHg.
When taking your blood pressure for the first time, it makes sense to measure the blood pressure in both arms, because it’s sometimes high on only one side. The values that are higher are always the ones used for assessing blood pressure. After that it is enough to measure the blood pressure only in the arm that produced the higher reading. A person is considered to have high blood pressure if the systolic value is over 140 mmHg, the diastolic value is over 90 mmHg, or if both are higher than these readings.
Table: Normal and high blood pressure readings
|systolic over 140 mmHg and/or diastolic over 90 mmHg
Blood Pressure Thats Too Low
Low blood pressure is known as hypotension. In adults, a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg or below is often considered hypotension. This can be dangerous because blood pressure that is too low doesnt supply your body and heart with enough oxygenated blood.
Some potential causes of hypotension can include:
- heart problems
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Measurement Of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is one of the critical parameters measured on virtually every patient in every healthcare setting. The technique used today was developed more than 100 years ago by a pioneering Russian physician, Dr. Nikolai Korotkoff. Turbulent blood flow through the vessels can be heard as a soft ticking while measuring blood pressure these sounds are known as Korotkoff sounds. The technique of measuring blood pressure requires the use of a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope. The technique is as follows:
- The clinician wraps an inflatable cuff tightly around the patients arm at about the level of the heart.
- The clinician squeezes a rubber pump to inject air into the cuff, raising pressure around the artery and temporarilycutting off blood flow into the patients arm.
- The clinician places the stethoscope on the patients antecubital region and, while gradually allowing air within the cuff to escape, listens for the Korotkoff sounds.
Figure 3. When pressure in a sphygmomanometer cuff is released, a clinician can hear the Korotkoff sounds. In this graph, a blood pressure tracing is aligned to a measurement of systolic and diastolic pressures.
The majority of hospitals and clinics have automated equipment for measuring blood pressure that work on the same principles. An even more recent innovation is a small instrument that wraps around a patients wrist. The patient then holds the wrist over the heart while the device measures blood flow and records pressure .
If You Get A High Blood Pressure Reading
- A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
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Monitoring Arterial Blood Pressure
The recording of arterial blood pressure in toxicity studies complements electrocardiography by adding a hemodynamic variable to routinely monitored cardiovascular functions. A majority of the toxicity studies in which blood pressure is recorded are carried out in the dog and rat. Single and multiple blood pressure measurements have been reported in these and other species using both direct and indirect methods.
Direct Methods to Monitor Arterial Blood Pressure
As mentioned above with methods for evaluating electrical activity in intact animals, implanted telemetered instrumentation that includes a pressure cathether in a major artery to get sensitive measures of arterial blood pressure is common in drug development settings. This instrumentation allows longitudinal monitoring in conscious and unrestrained animals without the artifactual distraction of human intervention.
Indirect Methods to Monitor Arterial Blood Pressure
When To See The Doctor
The doctor should check your monitor at least once a year. This ensures that the measurements are accurate.
Only a doctor can diagnose you with high blood pressure. Contact your doctor if you have high readings for several days. Be sure to take your blood pressure log with you to the visit.
Hypotension is low blood pressure. This occurs when your systolic pressure is consistently below 90 or is 25 points below your normal reading. Contact your doctor if you have low readings. Hypotension can be a sign of shock, which is life threatening. Call your doctor right away if you are dizzy or lightheaded.
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What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may have something called prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|High blood pressure: Stage 2
|160 or higher
|100 or over
*If you have diabetes or kidney disease, high blood pressure ranges may be lower than for other people. Or, if you are older than 65, goal blood pressure may be higher. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
Why Do I Need A Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure measurement is often included as part of a regular checkup. Adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure measured at least once every two to five years. You should get tested every year if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Are 40 years old or older
- Are overweight or have obesity
- Are Black/African American. Black/African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure than other racial and ethnic groups
You may need this test if you have symptoms of low blood pressure.
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Importance Of Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure readings can reveal abnormal pressure in a person without symptoms, as well as help monitor blood pressure control during treatment. There are four categories of blood pressure measurements: normal, prehypertension, stage 1 hypertension, and stage 2 hypertension. Low blood pressure is usually not serious, but high blood pressure negatively affects ones overall health. High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart, arteries, and kidneys. If left untreated, it can eventually result in heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, or kidney damage.
New Aha Recommendations For Blood Pressure Measurement
Am Fam Physician. 2005 Oct 1 72:1391-1398.
Diagnosis and treatment of hypertension depend on accurate measurement of auscultatory blood pressure. The lowering of target blood pressure for patients with diabetes or renal disease has made detection of small differences more important. However, blood pressure reading is one of the most inaccurately performed measurements in clinical medicine.
True blood pressure is defined as the average level over a prolonged duration. Thus, in-clinic blood pressure measurement, which generally makes no allowance for beat-to-beat variability, can be a poor estimation and may fail to catch high blood pressure that occurs only outside the clinic setting. In addition, faulty methods and the white coat effect may lead to misdiagnosis of hypertension in normotensive patients.
To increase accuracy of clinic readings, and in recognition of major changes over the past 10 years , the American Heart Association has published a new set of recommendations for the measurement of blood pressure. The AHA scientific statement, written by Pickering and colleagues, was first published in the January 2005 issue of Hypertension and also appears in the February 8, 2005, issue ofCirculation. It can be accessed online at. A summary of the AHA scientific statement follows.
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Variations In Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure changes to meet your bodys needs. If a reading is high, your doctor may measure your blood pressure again on several separate occasions to confirm the level.
Your doctor may also recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or have a 24-hour recording with a monitoring device.
Digital Blood Pressure Monitors
Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.
Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.
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Do I Need To Use A Blood Pressure Checker
You may not need a blood pressure checker for every reading, but it will help manage blood pressure health. As you become familiar with your readings, using a blood pressure checker will advise how to improve and maintain healthy blood pressure.
The blood pressure calculator can be accessed via desktop, tablet or mobile.
If you have questions about taking blood pressure or using the blood pressure checker, contact us. If you are concerned about your reading after using this blood pressure calculator or any other blood pressure checker, seek medical advice.
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What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean
When you see your doctor, it seems like one of the first things they do is check your blood pressure readings. Even pharmacies and grocery stores have blood pressure machines for you to check your pressure on your own. So checking your blood pressure must be important, right? But what are those numbers actually telling you?
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force that moves blood through your body. It is driven by the heart, and it changes as the heart muscle contracts and relaxes. There are two numbers involved in a blood pressure reading. The first is known as “systolic,” and it measures the pressure when the heart muscle contracts. The second number is known as “diastolic,” and it’s the measurement of the pressure when the heart muscle is at rest. Blood pressure is read with the systolic number over the diastolic , and it’s measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg. According to Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain, Mercury is used because it is 13.6 times denser than water and therefore allows the instruments used in blood pressure readings to be smaller and more manageable for your doctor. A normal blood pressure reading, according to the American Heart Association, is a systolic number below 120 and a diastolic number under 80. This reading is typically read as 120/80, or 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury.
Measuring Blood Pressure
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Types Of Blood Pressure:
blood pressure readings are made up of two values :
Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury .
For example, for someone with a reading of 130/90 mmHg, this means systolic blood pressure of 130mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of 90mmhg.
As a general guide,
Normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher .
Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower .
Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer.
There are three types of sphygmomanometers.
Automatic Digital Sphygmomanometer.
Systolic And Diastolic Pressures
When systemic arterial blood pressure is measured, it is recorded as a ratio of two numbers , expressed as systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure is the higher value and reflects the arterial pressure resulting from the ejection of blood during ventricular contraction, or systole. The diastolic pressure is the lower value and represents the arterial pressure of blood during ventricular relaxation, or diastole.
Figure 1. The graph shows the components of blood pressure throughout the blood vessels, including systolic, diastolic, mean arterial, and pulse pressures.
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What Do The Readings Mean
As a general guide:
140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.
The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.
What Is Systolic Blood Pressure
During a heartbeat, the heart is pushing blood out into the arteries. Doctors call this “systole,” and that’s why it’s called the systolic blood pressure. It’s the pressure during a heartbeat and the highest pressure measured.
When the reading is 120 mmHg or a little below while a person is sitting quietly at rest, the systolic blood pressure is considered normal.
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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure
Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with high blood pressure, regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with low blood pressure. Use the chart to see where your numbers sit.
If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.
Making sure your readings arent a one-off
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.
Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.
Read about how high blood pressure is diagnosed, getting a blood pressure check, the further tests you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and what it means if youre diagnosed with high blood pressure.